Never Stop Learning: A Styal Lodge Bridal Shoot
As has been well documented lately, I've had an awesome time working with Jonny Draper throughout the course of my mentorship with him. In just 3 short months, he has already pushed me to work harder, be better, step out of my comfort zone and just try new things that creatively I had never considered before. I've always felt fairly comfortable behind the lens, I know my camera inside and out and have sort of prided myself on the simplicity of my work: I stick to one, maybe 2 lenses tops, only work with natural light and try to stay fairly out of things at a wedding. I thought that working this way would keep my work consistent, that it was dependable in sticking to the classics. What I didn't realise was that by ignoring the progress in wedding photography and technology being developed every day, my work was just beginning to look stale. And samey and (I hated this most of all) it was boring.
And I was bored with it! I got into this industry on the idea that I could be creative and challenged by every new job but somehow along the way I began playing it safe! And this isn't to disparage my earlier work or even to knock the classics (there's a reason they're the classics! They work!) but it just wasn't ME. Where was the artistry?? Where was the drama?? Where were the pushed boundaries???
When I second shot the lovely Darran and Debbie's wedding with Jonny and saw how he worked, saw the orchestration of elements and how a photographer can get those real reportage photos but also manipulate the action a bit to get that showstopping shot that makes you gasp, I was floored. There's ANOTHER WAY! And yes it requires a bit more gear and organisation but those are the images you cherish: they celebrate the hundreds of details and hours and effort spent putting together this one perfect day.
As part of my mentorship, Jonny arranged for a day shooting at the amazing Styal Lodge. I've always admired other photographers' images of Styal Lodge weddings but hadn't had the opportunity to shoot there myself yet. Jonny and his wonderful wife Emma (of Love Bridal Boutique) met me at the door with the stunning Beckie who would be modelling the most beautiful Enzoani wedding dress and the mission for the day was simple: let's go back to basics but the NEW BASICS. Let's play with lighting and positioning and all of those pieces of wedding photography that used to scare me, that I thought I had nailed. Let's shake off the cobwebs and try something new! Let's work on how to incorporate those details into the day so that it feels organic, rather than staged. Let's find the drama in those organic moments without pushing for it and let's take some beautiful photos.
Beckie was an absolute dream to shoot and I'm thrilled with the final images. I hope you are too!